The Gospel of John, Jesus' sixth sign, Final
Dec 21, 2019
The good shepherd is the one who manifests the glory of God. Recall that when Moses asked to see God’s glory, God showed him His goodness (Exodus 33:18, 19). God’s goodness is His glory, for He does not glory in evil. His goodness is the full expression of His love, and we are changed into His image by beholding Him. We behold Him only as our blindness is healed.
The prime example of the good shepherd is found in Psalm 23. So we read in Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.” God is love, and His goodness follows us around all the days of our lives. David experienced many troubles throughout his life, but He knew that God’s glory and goodness would never leave him. His revelation of God’s goodness made him a good shepherd.
God’s love and goodness compel Him to restore to Himself everything that was lost through Adam’s sin. Christ came to obtain the treasure in the field, and to do so lawfully, He first purchased the entire field (Matthew 13:44). The field is the world (Matthew 13:38). False gods would steal the treasure from another man’s field without paying the required price.
False gods distinguish themselves from the true God in that they are blinded by vainglory. The Greek word for “vainglory” is kenodoxia, used in Philippians 2:3 KJV. The NASB renders it “empty conceit.” I think of it as a pretense of goodness, all show and no substance. It describes how blind people view God and His nature.
When men behold false gods, they are changed into the image of those false gods. So men like Antiochus Epiphanes, “God Manifest,” was changed into the image of his false god named Vainglory and testified of his non-goodness by his actions.
The prophet Daniel implies that Vainglory was the name of the Prince of Grecia that inspired Antiochus. Vainglory blinds us from God’s goodness (or glory), that is, God’s kabod, His “weight of glory.” Daniel 8:9 described Antiochus as the Grecian “rather small horn” which extended from the forehead of the ram (Greece), saying, “it will fling truth [amet] to the ground” (Daniel 8:12).
The solution to Vainglory is Truth (Daniel 10:21; 11:2). Hence, the Hebrew name for this angel is Amet. His function is to bring the light of truth—i.e., open the eyes of the blind. For further study about Vainglory, Prince of Grecia, see Daniel, Prophet of the Ages, Book 3, chapter 7.
Vainglory Desires to Stone the Truth
When Jesus did the good works that He saw His Father doing, the people did not mind receiving those blessings. However, they did not want to hear the truth of God’s glory and goodness. So John 10:31-33 says,
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”
When the people had asked Jesus to tell them plainly if He were the Messiah, He replied that He had already told them (John 10:24-26). How? By words? No, by His good works. But those who are blinded by the Prince of Vainglory, who flings truth to the ground, cannot see the glory and goodness of God. Hence, they did not believe, nor were they His sheep.
Good works are the outworking of an inner goodness obtained by beholding the One who is good. This principle is seen also in discussion about justification, where Paul insists that we are justified by faith alone, and James insists that good works are the proof of one’s faith. Works display one’s inner nature, for better or for worse.
You are Gods
John 10:34-36 says,
34 Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he [Asaph] called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
Jesus was quoting Psalm 82:6, which was part of a Psalm of Asaph. The theme of that psalm is found in the first verse, where Psalm 82:1 says,
1 God [Elohim] takes His stand in His own congregation [El, “God”]; He judges in the midst of the rulers [Elohim, “gods”].
The Hebrew term, Elohim, can refer either to the true God or to false gods, depending on the context. So the First Commandment reads in Deuteronomy 5:6, 7,
6 I am Yahweh your Elohim who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 You shall have no other elohim before Me.
There is a distinction between “your Elohim” and “other elohim.” And yet the Hebrew words are the same. So there is no particular sacredness inherent in the term elohim. Likewise, the word applies also to rulers and judges, as we see in Psalm 82:1. Even the “congregation” is termed El, which is the shortened version of Elohim.
It is only when men confuse the one true Elohim—the Father—with false gods or subordinate gods that we run into trouble. Jesus Himself said in John 17:3,
3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Hence, Jesus never identified Himself as the Father Himself but as a messenger of the Father. The fact that He was “the only begotten God” in John 1:18 must be understood to mean that He was distinct from the Father and begotten by the Father. Yet He too was “a God” (Theos). The discussion in John 10:34 and 35 gives us the meat of this particular revelation.
Thus, Jesus appealed to Psalm 82:6 as proof that there were “gods” among men—subordinate, of course, to “the only true God.” Not only could Jesus claim to be God, but the people themselves as well, because in Psalm 82:1 God’s “congregation” was El, and the rulers were Elohim. We know this because verse 6 says, “You are Elohim, and all of you are sons of the Most High.”
Hence, it is clear that the congregation itself can be called “gods” without being accused of blasphemy. So why would the Jews want to stone Jesus for claiming to be one with the Father, unless they mistakenly thought He was claiming to be the Father Himself?
But Jesus was not making that claim, as we have seen. His claim was that they were of one mind and in full unity. By doing the works of His Father and by manifesting His goodness and glory, He and His Father were one. It is the same unity on which New Covenant marriage is based, where the two were to “become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). The two are not literally the same person but are in total unity and agreement. They are one in the eyes of the law.
The Outworking of Unity
Jesus continued His defense in John 10:37, 38,
37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.
Doing the works of the Father is the evidence that “the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” It explains what Jesus meant in John 8:28, “I do nothing on My own initiative.” The Father initiates the works that Jesus did on earth as a double witness in order to bring the goodness (glory) of heaven into the earth.
If any of Jesus’ works had brought dishonor to His Father, the people would have had the right not to believe His words were true.
John 10:39-41 concludes,
39 Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. 40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there. 41 Many came to Him and were saying, “While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.” 42 Many believed in Him there.
Somehow, Jesus “eluded their grasp,” although we are not told how this happened. He then left Jerusalem and would not return until the time came for Him to be crucified. He went to “Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing” (John 1:28). Apparently, this was a town just across the Jordan River opposite Jericho. When Jesus crossed the Jordan, He left Judea itself.
By this, John showed that Judea itself had rejected Jesus (John 1:11), but that those beyond its borders would see a great light, both in Galilee to the north and in Perea to the east. Perhaps these who believed were some of the “other sheep which are not of this fold” (John 10:16).
This is the conclusion of the sixth sign that Jesus did, as recorded in the Gospel of John.
Summary of the Sixth Sign
The sixth sign is about opening the eyes of the blind in order to see the light of truth, that the people might believe that Jesus is the Christ. We are all “born blind,” as it were, for we are all born of natural parents whose blindness was passed down from Adam and (later) from Israel.
To be healed of blindness is to be persecuted and even excommunicated by those who yet remain blind. It seems that the blind who refuse to see do not want to fellowship with those who are healed of their blindness.
Those who remain blind prefer to follow men who are not good shepherds. Their works show that they are not in agreement with the Father. Rather than hear the word (Logos), they hear the pseudo-logos (“liars” in 1 Timothy 4:2), who are “paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).
In other words, they listen to the spirit of Vainglory (kenodoxia), rather than the voice of God manifesting the goodness and glory of "the only true God." In so doing, our temples have been defiled, even as Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the temple with idols and false gods. The solution is to rededicate our temples to “the only true God,” and this is illustrated by the Feast of Dedication that Jesus attended in the final story of the sixth sign.
This is part 10 of a series titled "Jesus' Sixth Sign" To view all parts, click the link below.